Six weeks without beer. That must be a record for me. I have not actually needed any alcohol to feel like I've had a few drinks too many though thanks to this illness. Losing your balance is quite unsettling when you have done nothing to induce it yourself. Staggering around after ten pints is fair enough but feeling like that constantly is not much fun. The feeling has not disappeared but it has worn off a little so I can walk around now without too much trouble as long as I am careful and last week I attended my first CAMRA social for nearly two months and I survived. The Long Man American Pale Ale at the Wilkes Head, CAMRA pub of the year for Sussex for the third successive year, tasted simply divine.
The only good thing about being ill is it gives me time to catch up on my reading. I have read plenty of Stephen King as is my preference when it comes to having time of my hands but I have caught up on my beery literature too. I am not the kind of person who needs to avoid all mention of beer when I am unable to partake and so the one book I really wanted to catch up on was Pete Brown's 'Three Sheets To The Wind'. I only caught up with his writing in the past couple of years after picking up a copy of 'Hops And Glory' in my local Waterstones. This is a brilliant book which I reviewed at the time (click here in case you missed it) and it made me go out and purchase his first two books - 'A Man Walks Into A Pub' and 'Three Sheets To The Wind'.
I read 'A Man Walks Into A Pub' last year and it is a highly entertaining account of the history of beer and is probably the best book to start with if you want to begin the Pete Brown experience. You need to read it simply for the massively long list of all the terms that have been used over time to describe the state of inebriation as some of these are carried over into this second book.
'Three Sheets To The Wind' best describes how I have been feeling for a few weeks now so I thought it was time I caught up with this particular book. The book is a crawl around 300 bars in 13 countries in a quest to discover the various drinking cultures and how beer fits into each. You get the feeling the whole project was like a runaway train. It started fairly sedately with short trips to Barcelona and Prague but as each new country is visited the intensity of drinking seems to gather pace. As with all travel books there are bits that grab my attention more than others and the trip to Dublin on St Patrick's Day was particularly nostalgic for me as I remembered the time when I was working over there and enjoyed the booziest day off work I have ever experienced. The sections on Belgium and Germany probably told me nothing I wasn't aware of and remain countries I wish to explore but I now have to add Spain to that list. Spain has never appealed to me but it comes across in this book as a 'must visit' destination. Drinking late into the night in a relaxed friendly environment sounds perfect to me.
The pace picks up with trips to places I simply must visit such as Portland in Oregon and places I still have no yearning for even after reading this book such as Japan and Australia. The Sweden and Denmark sections brought back more happy memories and it all ends with a trip home to Barnsley for the author to reflect on the whole venture. Here he experiences and tries to understand the modern British drinking culture as well as comparing it to what he has witnessed on his travels. Buy this book. You won't be disappointed. Pete Brown has a gift for recounting stories and experiences in a way that makes you easily picture yourself there alongside him and most of the time wishing that you actually were.
It has been a challenge writing a blog post after such a long layoff but the monkey is off my back now. In the past two months I have missed my local beer festival as well as my planned trip to Manchester to enjoy the delights of that city with fellow blogger Beers Manchester. There will be more beer festivals though and Manchester will be rescheduled so nothing has really been 'missed', just postponed. Now I must prepare myself for the World Cup. That is one thing I can enjoy sitting down and not having to venture out for.